Nerve transfer treatment

Healthwatch

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9-year-old Brandon Noblitt is an expert on patience. It’s a skill he had to learn young.

Three years ago, his life took an unexpected turn.

Brandon Noblitt said, “I tried to get out of bed and I just collapsed.”

Brian Noblitt, Brandon’s Dad said, “He was perfectly healthy before. Never really had anything, any serious diagnosis or any serious health problems. He was, normal.”

An MRI revealed he had Acute Flaccid Myelitis, a polio-like illness that causes sudden paralysis. It’s rare, but often pops up after an infection like the common cold.

Brandon Noblitt said, “I was thinking wow. What if, what if I never get better?”

Brandon had to adjust to life in a wheelchair. Nerve surgeon Amy Moore was determined to get him out of it.

Amy Moore, MD, Nerve Surgeon, Washington University St. Louis said, “The humanism of it, it hurts, because these are normal kids.”

In a surgical first for AFM, Moore transfers less important nerves from one part of the body to help the paralyzed leg.

Doctor Moore said, “We can cut it and remove it and re-suture it under a microscope and at a millimeter a day, inch a month, foot and a half a year, we get muscle function.”

It was a long wait but eventually, brandon’s patience paid off. His leg muscles started to quiver.

Brian Noblitt said, “It was a sense of celebration. A sense of that ‘wow’ this is really starting to happen.”

Doctor Moore said, “I’m not making them normal but giving them, waking up muscles to make them stronger so they can stand and so that they can walk.” Moore says it can take four years to get the full effect.

Brandon doesn’t mind waiting. He’s just glad to be out of his wheelchair.

Brian Noblitt said, “I feel like I’m still getting better. I feel great. I can keep up with my friends and everything.”

Doctor Moore has treated 13 children.

Three are now out of a wheelchair and walking like Brandon. Others are regaining mobility and the hope is, they will continue to improve with time. 

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